The holidays are a special time for reflecting and spending time with those you love. This year, I have been blessed to celebrate the season with both family and friends. My parents came to visit me from Florida for Thanksgiving and my daughter and I traveled to Arizona to see my sister and her kids the first week in December. I also celebrated my birthday and my son's birthday and have a Christmas celebration with my in-laws. While spending time with family is a key element to holiday celebrating, it is important to manage expectations from the start. Here are some ideas for managing the long list of tasks and expectations that accompany the holidays.
Write in a Journal
I find it helpful to write all the things I want to do and see over the holidays in a journal. It's kind of like a bucket list of the people you want to celebrate with, the activities you want to do and the things you need in order to get there. For me, I wanted to spend time with my parents, see my sister's new home and visit with her and her kids and of course hang out with my own family and friends here in Michigan. I also use my journal to write down ideas for next year so that I can plan ahead. I even add my kids' school and work schedules to my planner so that I can keep those in mind when planning.
Make a List
Whether you are a pen and paper person or an Excel spreadsheet kind of girl, making a list is the first step to planning your holidays. I had house guests and also hosted 15 family and friends for Thanksgiving dinner this year. In the past, we ate out, but this year we decided to try something different. As our parents have gotten older, it is becoming difficult for them to hear at a table for 15 or 20. I made several trips to the grocery store to cover both my house guests and my Thanksgiving dinner. I also made lists for my travel plans to include airline, hotel and rental car reservations.
Make Travel Plans Early
I made my reservations for my trip to Arizona in August. My daughter and I went to see my sister and her kids. I worked around all of our work and school schedules and also used free airline tickets so these plans had to made early. Avoid disappointment by planning ahead and be flexible. You may have to travel on mid-week in order to get the best prices.
Buy Tickets for Special Events
We like to see the decorations at Meadowbrook Hall each year and then go out to eat. My sister-in-law bought the tickets for the tour and then we had a dinner at a restaurant nearby. For my Birthday, we saw Cirque Dreams Holidaze at the Fox Theatre in Detroit and then had dinner at The Heathers Club of Bloomfield Hills. I bought those tickets a few months ago and made reservations for dinner a few weeks ago. I also had a lovely dinner with friends in Detroit.
And for our trip to Phoenix, the adults wanted to see the Las Noches de las Luminarias at The Desert Botanical Garden. And the kids wanted to skate at the CitySkape downtown. You may have some holiday traditions that you always do or you may want to try something new and it is all good. Just be sure and take time to plan and order tickets in advance so that you can fit it all in and manage schedules.
Be Willing to Compromise
It is not the end of the world if everyone can not make it to everything. I had to give one of our tickets to Cirque to a friend because my husband had to work that day. In the end, my kids and I went with my friend and it all worked out. It made a wonderful gift to her and we all enjoyed it. For the Meadowbrook event, my son could not go and my daughter had to work, so my husband and I went with my in laws and it was a nice time to catch up with them.
Remember, the Holidays are not just about things. With a little planning, you can make the season about experiences. It is possible to managing expectations and having fun all at the same time.